John Franklin Koenig, a Seattle native, spent his life in the city until he was drafted into the army in 1943; leaving his studies at the University of Washington to join the 11th Armor Division in Europe until 1946. After the war was over he enrolled at the G.I. University at Biarritz, where he created several paintings. Upon his arrival back to Seattle he reenrolled at the University of Washington and after his graduation he returned to Paris under the G.I. Bill to study French literature.
The bookstore of Jean Robert-Arnaud would hold Koenig’s first informal exhibition. Once his G.I. Bill ran out Koenig started working in Arnaud’s bookstore and they would later open Galerie Arnaud and would showcase the works of many nonfigurative artists. Prominent figures in the Seattle art community visited Koenig while in France and ended up asking him to send them art. Koenig traveled to Japan for the first time in 1960 and found inspiration in various aspects of Japanese culture. He relocated to Seattle in 1980 for five years and then moved back to France. Paris was more comfortable and his art was appreciated more in Europe than in America. This was the same year that he obtained the title “Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters” and won the Gold Medal of the City of Paris.